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'Better Naito Forever' now open, adding pedestrian space and bike lanes

It's part of the 'Better Naito' project which is seven years in the works. The newest completed part is called 'Better Naito Forever.'

PORTLAND, Ore. — There's more space for pedestrians and cyclists in downtown Portland thanks to the completion of the "Better Naito" project. The latest extension is called "Better Naito Forever" and stretches over a mile from Harrison to Northwest Davis Streets.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) said that the project will allow cyclists and pedestrians to get around without coming in close contact with cars. 

"It took one lane of traffic northbound and created a bike facility, and also included a mile of sidewalk that enabled people to walk along Waterfront Park safely," said Chris Warner with PBOT.

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Portland city officials hope improvements to pedestrian areas bring more visitors downtown. Issues with crime and protests have kept people away.

"When people are on the street, when people are active and people are riding and out having a good time, everybody is safer," Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty said. "We have people who need mental healthcare and treatment and we don't have that, we don't have enough beds for them, but every major city has that."

At the ribbon cutting on Friday, both cyclists and pedestrians were welcoming the upgrade. Cassie Wilson comes downtown for events a couple times a month.

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"If you have somewhere to be, it's nice to be able to go directly to where you need to go — and having the physical separation from the cars makes a huge difference," Wilson said. 

The cost of the project was $4 million which covered the sidewalks, curbs and traffic signals. There were also new bike signals added, in addition to 17,000 square-feet of sidewalk.